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    The Government Notifies the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024

    • 02.07.2024
    • By Rishikaa
    Saikrishna & Associates

    On 15th March 2024, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting notified the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 2024 (“2024 Cinematograph Rules”) under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (“Cinematograph Act”). The 2024 Cinematograph Rules supersede the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 (“1983 Rules”) and have been introduced after the passing and notification of the Cinematograph (Amendment) Act, 2023 which seeks to inter alia streamline the film certification framework and also address issues such as online piracy and copyright infringement.

    Highlights of the 2024 Cinematograph Rules:

    • Key definitions:
      • Feature film: A feature film has been defined as a fictionalized story-long film. This is different from the 1983 Rules which defined a feature film as a fictionalized story film in 35mm or other gauges or in or on video, tape or compact video disc.
      • Long film: As per the 2024 Cinematograph Rules, a long film is a film running 72 minutes or more including the credit and title time of the film. The 1983 Rules defined a long film in the context of meters or corresponding length in other gauges.
      • Short film: Similarly, the 2024 Cinematograph Rules have altered the definition of the term ‘short film’ to simply mean a film running less than 72 minutes as opposed to the 1983 Rules which, similar to the old definition of long film, uses a measure of length to defines the term.
      • Foreign film: This is a new term that has been introduced to mean a film produced outside India.
      • UA certificate: The 2024 Cinematograph Rules also introduce a definition for UA certification as a certificate with the appropriate UA marker, an age-based indicator for a film that has received or is intended to receive a “UA” Certificate under Section 4 of the Cinematograph Act which provides the procedure for examination of films by the Board of Film Certification (“Board”).
    • Online certification processes: To streamline and digitize operations, the 2024 Cinematograph Rules have introduced an online certification process by establishing an online portal called the ‘e-cinepramaan portal’ for filing applications for film certification/re-certification as well as examination of films.
    • Accessibility features: For making the content accessible for persons with disabilities, the 2024 Cinematograph Rules require every application for film certification to be accompanied by same language subtitles, same language audio description, or same language closed captions and any other accessibility features that the Central Government may notify, along with other documents prescribed for the application process.
    • Protection of the rights of a copyright holder: As per the 2024 Cinematograph Rules, in the event that an application is made by a person other than the producer/copyright holder of the film, then written authorisation on a stamped paper of appropriate value from the producer or copyright holder of the film will also have to be submitted along with the application.
    • Priority scheme: The 2024 Cinematograph Rules allow for an applicant to apply for the priority scheme, by paying 3 times the usual fee payable for the examination of the film, for scheduling the examination of the film ‘preferably’ within 5 days of the submission of the application subject to the availability of the Board. For examining the films, the Examining Committee of the Board is required to follow the order in which it received the applications for film certification. However, it can alter the order on receipt of a priority application. This scheme has been introduced to allow filmmakers to expedite the examination of the film in case of any urgency felt by filmmaker(s) due to their prior commitments before the release of the film.
    • Engagement of experts: The 2024 Cinematograph Rules allow regional officers appointed by the Central Government to enable the Board to perform its functions and to invite subject or language experts in the field of films to assist with examining the film by the Examining Committee.
    • Age-based categories for film certification: In the 1983 Rules, the UA certificate was limited to the age of 12 years. The 2024 Cinematograph Rules have introduced an age-based categorisation of film certification by subdividing the UA certification into three age-based categories, namely 7 years, 13 years and 16 years.
    • Timeline for issuing certificates: After completion of the entire process, the timeline for issuing a certificate has been reduced from 7 days (in the 1983 Rules) to 2 days in the 2024 Cinematograph Rules.
    • Validity of certificates: As per the 2024 Cinematograph Rules, a certificate granted by the Board will be valid perpetually and throughout India. Earlier, a Board-granted certificate was valid only for 10 years and required the filing of a renewal/re-application after the expiration of its validity.
    • Re-certification for a television broadcast: As per the 2024 Cinematograph Rules, an application for re-certification or change of category of the film that has received final certification from the Board will have to be filed on the e-cinepramaan portal for a film that is intended to be exhibited on television or any other media other than the one that was originally certified.
    • Gender representation: The 2024 Cinematograph Rules empower the Central Government to take appropriate steps to appoint women members to the Board for due representation for women. As per the 2024 Cinematograph Rules, at least one-third of the members of the Board must be women and this number can be increased to ensure that women preferably represent 50% of the panel of members of the Board. Further, in the case of the advisory panel, the Central Government has been empowered to determine the number of members to such panel after consulting with the Board wherein at least one-third of the members shall be women and preferably 50% shall be women.
    Our Take

    The overhaul of the framework governing cinematography (by amending the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and introducing the 2024 Cinematograph Rules) is a welcome step for ensuring the modernisation of the process and at the same time protecting intellectual property rights and combating piracy.

    The 2024 Cinematograph Rules also take into consideration the various initiatives of the government for fostering ease of doing business, women empowerment, and ensuring accessibility of content.

    The digitisation of the application process would ensure prompt and transparent submission and processing of applications thereby enhancing the efficiency of the process. The introduction of the priority scheme and perpetual validity of certificates is vested in the interest of ease of doing business and would be pivotal in reducing the compliance burden on the filmmakers.

    The age-based categorisation of the UA certificate is a positive step towards ensuring that informed decisions are taken about the consumption of age-appropriate content and balancing the right to freedom of speech and expression and the duty of the government to protect children. By requiring applicants to submit language subtitles, audio descriptions etc. the 2024 Cinematograph Rules not only allow accessibility of content but also factor in inclusivity.

    In addition to ensuring the representation of women, an overall gender-neutral tone has been adopted while drafting the 2024 Cinematograph Rules. For instance, the term ‘chairman’ in the 1983 Rules has been changed to ‘chairperson’ under the 2024 Cinematograph Rules.

    While the above-noted steps have been introduced and notified, their success would depend on the effective implementation of the provisions of the 2024 Cinematograph Rules.

    This article was first published on Saikrishna & Associates